Lamkin Grips

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Here’s a remarkable statistic for you to digest. During a three month stretch in 2012, 78% of all metal woods sold were white.

Eight out of ten.

We started getting hints about the next generation driver from TaylorMade’s flagship R series through TV ads that are now becoming quite familiar. The long hitting, driver loving TaylorMade Tour staff gathered around a box, whistled, muttered an expletive or two and sent the internet into frenzied discussion.  Since then we’ve seen Justin Rose in war paint and two PGA Tour victories in two weeks. Is it all a bit much? Maybe, but who am I to argue with the company that can pull off that little number I shared above.

Love it or not, the R1 is making noise.

One Driver

The name says it all. The R1 comes in a single loft and 12 different loft combinations all at once.  Consumers won’t have to decide among a number of options to buy, but instead will be able to ‘tune’ one driver to the loft, face angle, and shot shape they desire.

This is an incredibly simple, yet remarkably complicated idea all at the same time. Simple because having one head to choose from makes for an easy shopping experience, but complicated because there is a certain amount of knowledge and equipment required to get an ideal set of launch conditions. If drivers could talk, the R1 would say, “Go see a fitter.”

Three Tunable Technologies

In the absence of a fitting, TaylorMade does provide resources that should help consumers learn to get the most out of the R1. First, there is an app called R1 Virtual for both Android and iPhone devices that can be downloaded for free. There are also videos out there on youtube.com that offer good instructions, along with some neat graphics. Lastly, there’s a handy webpage on TaylorMade’s website that I found the most helpful. I’m going to give a little rundown of three basic elements of the tuning experience here as well.

12 Position Loft Sleeve

The first step in R1 tuning is centered on loft and the adjustments are made via the adapter at the end of the shaft, which has a few new settings when compared to previous R series drivers. The result is a 4° range of lofts to choose from – seven settings from 8° to 12°, in addition to five settings with an upright lie angle.

Here’s a little information from TaylorMade regarding driver loft.

“Offering a wide range of loft settings is imperative, because our research indicates that 80 percent of golfers are playing the wrong loft, which costs them distance,” said Dr. Benoit Vincent, chief technical officer. “The R1 offers 12 positions to help golfers find the loft that delivers the launch conditions that deliver maximum distance.”

Why are so many golfers playing the wrong loft? 

1) Golfers typically choose the wrong loft when they buy off the rack, usually opting for too little loft because of a long-held belief that a lower-lofted driver will promote long distance. In fact, a low-lofted driver typically costs the average player carry and distance by promoting a too-low launch angle.

2)  Changes to driver design during in recent years to promote lower spin (such as moving the CG location lower and forward) has made it possible for many players to switch to a higher loft that promotes more carry and distance by achieving a better combination of high launch/low spin launch conditions.

7 Position Face Angle Sole Plate

With adjustable drivers like the R1, loft changes alter face angle. The R11 was the first TaylorMade driver to offer a sole plate, which is designed to give the consumer the ability to get the face angle back to the position of his or her preference. For the sole plate to work, the driver must be grounded at address.

The R1’s sole plate is beefed up compared to previous models, with 7 positions ranging from 3° open to 3° closed. It seems simple enough, though there is a somewhat confusing element to it. The sole plate is used to offset loft changes, so a driver set at 12° loft will need to have the sole plate set to 3° open to achieve the appearance of a neutral face angle. If that sounds confusing, it’s because it sort of is. I’d love to see this simplified a bit in the future. Again, I’ll mention the resource available on TaylorMade’s website, so you can see exactly what loft and sole plate combination is needed to get the face angle where you want it.

Shot-Shape Technology

 

While the popular assumption is that face angle changes will alter side to side ball flight, TaylorMade relies on two interchangeable weights for this type of manipulation. This is the easiest of the three adjustments to understand. The heavier weight determines the shot shape, so putting it in the heel will promote a draw and vise-versa.

Aesthetics

War Paint

The R1 is sporting a racy new paint job on top of its white crown. As I briefly mentioned above, it’s been likened to war paint in TV advertising. One incredibly valuable result of the new graphics is that it’s so easy to tell which Tour players are using the R1. Even at a distance, the burnt orange, black, and gray makes it clear that this isn’t an R11. For that reason alone, the war paint is genius. TaylorMade found something that trumps white when it comes to TV visibility.

Of course, TaylorMade does contend that there is some technological value to the new paint job, primarily in the form of aiding alignment. On a personal level, I am quite indifferent to the paint. While it’s not what I’d choose if I was designing my own driver, it’s certainly not a distraction or detraction. However, I also didn’t find much value in it when it came to aiding alignment. I tend to zone out enough that I don’t pay attention to the top of the driver head at address. In the end, I see it mostly as a way to separate the R1 from the R11, and that’s perfectly understandable from my perspective.

Sound

I still remember the SuperTri as the best sounding driver ever created. Maybe that’s because it was my first ‘real’ driver, but something about it was just right to my ears. Admittedly, I haven’t been a fan of the sound that subsequent TaylorMade drivers have produced. That is, until the R1 came along.

While it doesn’t replicate, or even rival, the sweet sounding SuperTri, the sound from the R1 is something I learned to really enjoy. While it is plenty loud, it’s got a somewhat muted, high pitched note to it. Still, it’s not reminiscent of an aluminum bat and probably isn’t something that will raise eyebrows on the driving range.

360° Coverage

Adjustable driver heads that rotate around the shaft do have detractions, and one of those is that graphics and logos on the shaft and grip can end up in odd spots. To fix this, TaylorMade did two things. First, they left the Aldila RIP Phenom shaft mostly void of graphics and gave it a paintjob that looks almost identical in every conceivable loft setting. In addition, the TM 360 grip (reminiscent of a Tour Velvet) is the same way. This is good thinking on TaylorMade’s part and should please those of you that are picky about that sort of thing.

The Sole

I also thought I’d touch a bit on the sole of the R1. In reality, it’s probably the most unattractive part of the golf club. Many comments have been made comparing the sole plate to a compass, an astute observation in my opinion. Regardless of your personal taste, it is a very busy sole. In addition, there are a number of nooks, crevices and depressions on it that seem to trap dirt quite frequently. If I were offering suggestions for the future, it would be to find a way to make the sole a little cleaner. I know the sole plate makes that difficult, but I’d rather not have to grab a Q-Tip to clean my driver.

Aldila RIP Phenom Shaft

Here is what TaylorMade has to say about the R1’s stock shaft offering:

R1’s ultra-light Aldila RIP Phenom 55 is faster clubhead speed, yet is strategically weighted to deliver the feel of a heavier, 65-gram shaft. The RIP Phenom 55 also features Aldila’s Hyberbolic Flex Technology™ that incorporates a stiff tip section to promote optimal launch and spin control, a very firm butt section for incredibly stable feel, and a softer center section that promotes an added “kick” through impact for maximum ball speed.  

Shafts are an incredibly personal thing, so I’m hesitant to express much in the way of an opinion, but I will give you a couple perspectives for comparison.

My typical driver swing speed is in the 100mph range, and at times slightly higher. My feeling was that the RIP Phenom played true to flex, offered a mid-launch, and felt sufficiently stable in my hands. Conversely, I asked a friend, who is a more accomplished golfer with a higher swing speed, to take some swings with the R1 and his belief was that the shaft felt quite soft, offered a very high launch, and didn’t give him the stability he looks for.

In a nutshell, get fit and play the right shaft for your game. For typical amateur swings, I think the RIP Phenom is more than adequate, but we all have different needs and preferences.

Performance 

Effect of Loft Changes

One thing I learned about the R1 during testing was that it truly is many drivers in one. The first swings I took with it were with the loft in the factory setting of 10°. After some swings in that configuration, I raised the loft to 12°. Let me preface this by saying that I tend to hit the ball lower than many people to start with. Regardless, here are some numbers showing the difference I saw on that day after a quick adjustment.

Factory Setting (10°)

Ball Speed 146 mph
Launch 8.1°
Back Spin 2,631 rpm
Carry 212 Yards

 

Loft adjusted to 12°

Ball Speed 145 mph
Launch 11.5°
Back Spin 2,598 rpm
Carry 228 yards

 

Please keep in mind that this is one person’s numbers on one day, but I do think it gives a general idea of what can be accomplished by a simple loft adjustment. As I became more familiar with the R1, my launch angles at the 12° setting were typically in the 12° to 15° range with a spin rate that I’d characterize on the lower side.

Forgiveness

I tend to believe that forgiveness is often rated more on a subjective level than an objective one, so I tried to take as much of the guesswork out of this as possible.

I took impact tape and looked at the results on a Vector launch monitor. The graphic and corresponding tables below show what I saw from contact on various spots on the face.

White (center)

Ball Speed 145 mph
Launch 12.9°
Back Spin 2,990 rpm
Side Spin 129 L
Horiz Launch .8 L
Carry 237 yards

 

Blue (high contact/moderate toe)

Ball Speed 146 mph
Launch 12.0°
Back Spin 2,524 rpm
Side Spin 176 L
Horiz Launch .8 R
Carry 233 yards

 

Green (high contact/moderate heel)

Ball Speed 144 mph
Launch 12.3°
Back Spin 2,322 rpm
Side Spin STRT
Horiz Launch 2.1 L
Carry 227 yards

 

Red (low contact/center)

Ball Speed 142 mph
Launch 11.9°
Back Spin 3,383 rpm
Side Spin 169 R
Horiz Launch .7 R
Carry 227 yards

 

Orange (low contact/heel)

Ball Speed 140 mph
Launch 13.2°
Back Spin 3,492 rpm
Side Spin 844 R
Horiz Launch .1 L
Carry 223 yards

 

While this test doesn’t have the same element of perfection that a robotic test can offer, it does show some results from a typical golfer in the 12 handicap range. A quick analysis shows me that missing slightly higher on the face offered somewhat better results than those lower on the face. My personal observation was that the R1 proved to be an adequately forgiving driver.

Distance

I’m not a huge proponent of claiming one driver is longer than another, even if I hit it farther in testing. Differences in distance between modern drivers are often a matter of fitting rather than one being ‘longer’ than the other, with some exceptions .

With that statement made, I’ll say that the R1 does offer the opportunity to significantly increase one’s driver carry distance. I say that primarily based on the TaylorMade’s premise that 80% of golfers are playing the wrong loft. Being able to fine tune a single driver to optimal launch conditions could allow for some serious gains, as evidenced by the tables I showed above. Of course, that statement relies on a few things. The golfer either needs access to a knowledgeable fitter or the ability to tune the R1 themselves, ideally with the aid of a launch monitor. Finding the right shaft will be necessary as well. Still, this is quite the improvement from a couple years ago when we were forced to choose a loft and stick with it.

The only real downside to this is that the adjustments can be confusing, especially for the undereducated golfer. The most confusing thing to me was that the sole plate needs to offset loft adjustments if one wishes to keep a neutral face. I fear the use of the word Neutral on the sole plate will cause confusion.

Final Thoughts

On a personal level, I was quite impressed with the R1. It gave me the ability to find a decent set of launch conditions, which I can’t always do with a driver that I’m asked to review. In addition, I felt like it was easy for me to control. Finally, it sounded better than the last couple TaylorMade drivers that have been put to market. It’s a total-package driver in my books, assuming the looks fit your eye.

I’ll reiterate my belief that the easiest way to get the most out of this driver is a fitting, or at least a good working knowledge of launch conditions and the way the various adjustments affect them. Yes, trial and error on the driving range may work for some, but my experience has been that what we think is right isn’t always right.

For more information on the R1, you can head to www.taylormadegolf.com. In addition, a group of THP forum members has been reviewing this driver and you can read their experiences here.

 

 

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Category: Drivers, Equipment, Headlines & News

About the Author ()

Editor and writer Ryan Hawk lives in northwestern Illinois with his fiance and son. He's been a writer for The Hackers Paradise for two years and has been involved with a number of THP events.

Comments (48)

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  1. c0ncept says:

    That was an incredible review Hawk! Love all the detail.

  2. afwcardinal says:

    Very nice review Hawk. You have a lot of great information on this club. The description of the forgiveness by using the face tape was quite impressive.

  3. ddxu says:

    The impact tape and the numbers tied to it are awesome!

  4. Cookie says:

    Holy cow, that was a TREMENDOUS write up Ryan!!

    I genuinely could not agree with you more on the overall review – extremely well written with so much attention paid to detail.

    When it comes to the paint job, after the first few tee shots I did not realize it any more.

    The forgiveness on this thing is still mid blowing to me and it’s awesome that you got the numbers and diagram to back it up.

    Thanks for writing such a great review man!

  5. Chunkylover77 says:

    Quite simply the best review I have ever seen for a piece of golf equipment. I’m blown away

  6. Mward2002 says:

    You knocked this one out of the park Ryan. Absolutely killed it!

  7. Howzat says:

    This is one if the best and most thorough reviews I have seen. I love seeing the hard data and the writing itself is excellent. Keep up the great work Ryan!

  8. Damaikis says:

    Fantastic review Ryan. So much detail. Thanks for all the information!

  9. johnboy12.5 says:

    Simply the best driver review I’ve read! Job well done!!

  10. White Rhino says:

    Ryan, this one probably one of if not the best reviews I have read on here in a long time. Tremendous effort on this my friend!!

  11. War Eagle says:

    What an incredible, in-depth review of the R1, Hawk. Simply amazing work you did on this one.

  12. Pirate95 says:

    Great job Hawk! That was one of the best reviews I’ve ever read reguardless of the publication. It was in depth and to the point. The data you used on the effect of miss hits on the face with the use of the colored dots and corresponding data for each shot was off the charts…..good work!!

  13. Jeff Spicoli says:

    Dude awesome review. Very well done!

  14. Jman says:

    Phenomenal Ryan.

    You just accomplished a monumental task, making me NEED to hit a TM driver once again.

    I mean this, that is one of the best reviews I have EVER read anywhere.

  15. Jason K says:

    That was a great review Hawk, very in depth and thorough indeed. I finally got a chance to hit a few balls with one yesterday and I agree with your comments on the sound, better surely but still not the best sounding driver I’ve used. We knew TaylorMade would come out with something big with the successor to the R11 and R11s, just makes me think “what will they think of next”. Thanks for the review!

  16. lcsmrtn says:

    Best club review I’ve read. All the honest information potential club buyers could want. Would I be looking for a driver, I wouldn’t need any more reviews after reading this. Great job man.

  17. tnolan says:

    Hawk, that may just be the best review I’ve ever read. That write-up was complete from start to finish. Every little detail covered extremely well! Awesome job here.

    Onto the actual driver…yes, I want one. I think I should get fitted for one and see if I need it, because I’d like to have it.

  18. Canadan says:

    What a mountain of a review Ryan!!! Awesome stuff. I loved the interaction with off-center hits and how you explained it with actual statistics. Really, really enjoyable read.

  19. Sharkwrestler says:

    Tons of detail in your review Ryan. I like that the R1 delivers on slight miss hits.

  20. Nate says:

    Very Very nice Hawk! Loved what you did with the locations on the face! Yet another solid driver by Taylor Made and they continue to lead the industry in this area for a reason. I still must hit this driver but I’d be lying to you if I said I like the crown graphics.

  21. TripleBogieTim says:

    Ryan, the is one of the best reviews I have ever read! Very detailed…Launch Monitor numbers to back it up….very well done my friend!!

    I do like the fully adjustable driver solution, with access to a LM and a maybe a couple of shafts with R1 sleeves on them you could really get dialed in.

  22. Smallville says:

    Interesting article, Hawk! I have gamed a TaylorMade driver in the past and liked it a lot, so maybe I should consider giving this one a whirl. The head seems to be really busy for my tastes though, so it would be something I would have to learn to live with or ignore!

    The difference in your carry distances by increasing the loft is something many golfers should pay attention to, not so much just for this driver, but more to check their pride at the door and consider something with more loft.

  23. J4U says:

    Great in depth information Hawk. I too found the R1 to be a great driver and fun to hit. Especially like the 45″ TP stock shaft and the ease of getting the sweet spot.

  24. Drumdog says:

    Great review Ryan. I hope to hit one of these in the near future.

  25. COLT says:

    Great review, Ryan. Really in depth and informative.

    Interesting numbers on the loft change. You went up 2 full degrees and dropped your spin rate? That was pretty interesting in itself.

  26. Colonel Satchmo says:

    Another Fantastic review Hawk, great thoughts and I’m excited to learn more about this driver

  27. ole gray says:

    This driver sounds like it has so much to offer and the excellent review covers all the bases. Yet another awesome job Ryan!

  28. Troy Vayanos says:

    Thanks for the review Ryan,

    I’m still not a huge fan of the look of these drivers but you can’t argue with the performance.

    I personally still love my Cobra AMP Cell driver. I wouldn’t change it for anything else on the market today!

  29. Kevin67 says:

    When I heard there was a possible 168 settings, I rejected the R1 as too confusing, and yes I think the sole is too “busy”. Thanks for the explanation and clearing up the confusion, have to give it another look.

  30. Eric says:

    Great review. But to simplify it, I have a 9.5 R1 with 10 different shafts and so far I think it is a P.O.S. Tin can feeling driver with way too many adjustments! What happened to standard drivers loft/lie while looking for the right shaft?? This driver has no feel whatsoever along with no workability. Some may like it, the common tour player is not a fan. A hackers driver at most, a players worst nightmare.

  31. gh0stw34p0nx says:

    I want this club so bad but I just bought my R11S! :(

  32. Larry Moore says:

    For Eric on Feb. 20.

    Disagree completely. The key is to get fitted. The Kingdom in Greensboro Ga offers a great experience and the testing equipment gives them what they need to install the correct shaft. While not inexpensive, it’s money well spent if you take the game seriously.

    As a 4.1 GHIN, I take great exception to the R1 being a “hackers” club.

    Great article.

  33. Bill Johnson says:

    Wow this is an amazing review. Thanks for all the detail to… well everything! Another review written by someone who actually has used the R1 Driver I found to be helpful is from golfreviewguy.com heres the link. http://www.golfreviewguy.com/taylormade-r1-driver.htm. Hope this helps anyone.
    Thanks again for the great article!

  34. Bill Johnson says:

    w

  35. Bill Johnson says:

    Wow this is an amazing review. Thanks for all the detail to… well everything! Another review written by someone who actually has used the R1 Driver I found to be helpful is from golfreviewguy.com heres the link. http://www.golfreviewguy.com/taylormade-r1-driver.html. Hope this helps anyone.
    Thanks again for the great article!

  36. Jim M says:

    WOW……love this club….. maximim adjustability……once you get this dialed in ( and it will take some time and patience at the range) this will be the best driver you have ever hit…….the stock shaft seems to work for me…..and as far as people who care about the paint scheme or what a club looks like…..really ??…….you must have the perfect game or you only care about how you look on the course as opposed to your game……if it gives me and extra 15-20 yards and keeps me in the fairway I could care less if the thing was bright pink with polka dots……$400 on a driver seemed scary to me…..but I’m glad I invested……well worth it

  37. Conard H says:

    Fantastic review answered all of my questions and then some Thanks (Now how do I convince my wife that I need one)

  38. Ice Man says:

    Nice review. I enjoyed it. The only thing that stood out to me is the someone with a 100 mph swing speed should be carrying the ball further than 212-230….. Something is off with that. Anyways, good write up. :)

  39. philip says:

    nice write up. A ball speed of 144mph should produce a carry of 230-240 yards

  40. philip says:

    nice write up. A ball speed of 144mph should produce a carry of 230-240 yards. This means the ball is dropping out of the sky, as you are hitting a descending blow on the driver or the club face is rubbish

  41. Nigel says:

    1) What is the difference between the R1 and R1 TP?
    2) What shaft do you recommend to reach 250 yards with an avg swings speed of 90mph?

  42. Adrian Couzens says:

    Thanks for a none bull::;; review ! Very refreshing review ! Will be off to try one thanks !

  43. Mark Combs says:

    I hate white drivers, the graphics on this stick are even worse. Having said that, the new black version is a game changer. I bought it over the weekend for $299 after the $100 Father’s Day deal became available. What a stick!!!! Long, forgiving, feels great, and the adjustability is second to none. I have mine set at 10.5u and the face is closed 5.3′ and now I draw the ball with the same swing that was producing a fade – who says you can’t buy a game!!!!

  44. Gary f says:

    When seeking your proper loft , what in the world is upright lie angle?

  45. Ricky says:

    I was very excited about this club after using a Callaway Razr Fit for the last year. I hit it well in the shop but once I got out to the range found it surprisingly hollow to hit. A good 20 metres shorter! Most disappointing was the black face was easily scratched and it looked 6 months old after that outing and one round. I asked Drummond Golf to return it to Taylormade as I thought it might have been a defective face and they said that is the way they all are, especially if you hit a dirty or scuffed ball (which it wasn’t). I was not impressed at all. Going back to the Callaway and really cannot recommend this Driver.

  46. Doug W says:

    Excellent review and the numbers you came up are remarkably close to the numbers on the simulator at sea level. With the loft set at 12 degree and a 100 mph swing speed, I could carry it 228 with a launch of 11 degrees resulting in a 253 distance while slight mishits resulted in carry distances of 222 to 225. I actually bought the driver the date I tried it before I read your review.

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